Bringing Light to Students in the Tana Delta

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Students from Kulesa Primary School receiving their lamps

Rural schools in the Tana Delta have been usually left out from development plans. The communities live off the grid as the power infrastructure doesn’t reach their villages. Without light, students are unable to study nor do homework when the sun goes down. Providing solar lanterns will be enable students to do their homework in the evenings, providing them the opportunity to do better in national examinations. Beneficiaries are upper primary students in Class 7 & 8, aged between 12-15 yrs.

The foundation is working with schools to offer the students in the nearby villages with lighted classrooms, as well as take home lamps to do their homework and evening self-study. Many of the villages lack electricity and as a result students are not able to do their homework at night. The solar lanterns will provide electricity for lighting classrooms at night. Students in these rural communities are able to study and compete with students from other parts of the country who have better facilities.

Since 2017, we have been helping more than 200 students per year who are preparing for their primary school leaving exams. This will improve their results & chances to advance to secondary school.

At Bubesa Primary School, the solar lanterns had a tremendous impact on the performance of the students in the national exams last November. The graduating class emerged top for the first time in the Garsen North Zone which comprises of ten schools. The mean grade obtained by all the graduating students showed an improvement of 20.44%.

It has been shown that young people who have had more years of education are less likely to engage in behaviors detrimental to their communities eg. Join tribal militia that engage in tribal violence, teenage pregnancies but help their families. Health of these families will also improve due to less smoke inhaling.

Read about the progress of the project :

https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/solar-lanterns-for-tana-students/reports/#menu

From 9pm Wednesday 18th July ( Singapore time ) funds raised will be matched. Be the light ! 

 

 

 

 

Watch Our Latest Video

Watch a video of what the foundation has been up to lately. Gabriel Teo speaks about the work being done in Education, Sustainable Agriculture, Entrepreneuship, Youth Formation Program and the Emmaus Centre.

Thanks to Alen Nikolovski, Soh Lai Leng, and Sister Delphine for agreeing to be interviewed. Thank you Wally Tham and Esther Chan for producing this video !

Letter from Gabriel – Feb 2014

Dear Friends,

I hope this letter finds all of you in the best of health and blessed with a good start to 2014. This letter is long overdue, and I sincerely apologize for the delay. It has been an eventful year with a lot of unforeseen challenges. I am grateful however, because it was also a year of much growth in faith and inner strength.

It is now a year since the ethnic clashes in the Tana Delta ended as abruptly as it started and life has slowly returned to normal. TRLF was invited to be part of the Tana Delta Peace Forum set up by the Deputy County Commissioner’s office, aimed at conflict resolution. I believe that our human development initiatives can bring about not merely periods of normalcy but long term peace and sustainable development for the people of Tana Delta. The following report elaborates on this conviction:

https://tanariverlife.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/2014-trlf-education-and-peace-final.pdf

As part of our efforts to support the areas most affected by the conflict, we started a mobile library this month, initially serving two schools in the delta, including Buyani Secondary School which was vandalized and forced to stop operating for almost a year as a result of the clashes. Our school The Delta Mustard Seed Academy is now registered with the Ministry of Education as a Private Nursery and Primary School, with an enrolment of 115 children from all the delta tribes. You can read more about these and our other educational initiatives at :https://tanariverlife.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/2013-pdf-part-b-and-c-education-support1.pdf

We terminated the services of the contractor responsible for constructing Phase 1 of the Emmaus Centre (i.e. the school building) in the middle of last year on grounds of non-performance. We were unable to proceed as planned as he refused to return the original building plans to us. The case is currently pending a court decision with a ruling date set for 17th March. Meanwhile, construction of Phase 2 of the Emmaus Centre (i.e. the Community Centre housing the library, computer room, meeting room, auditorium and cafeteria) will begin this month under a new contractor. This phase is expected to be completed by August. Details about the ECP are available at:

https://tanariverlife.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/2013-pdf-part-k-and-l-scaling-up.pdf

To better manage these new initiatives, I have delayed my annual trip to Asia. I will arrive in Singapore on 21st March. Collections for the Mitumba Project (i.e. sale of recycled goods to improve rural livelihoods) will start on Saturday 22nd March and run through to Saturday 29th March. The venue remains the same as last year, i.e. the Nativity Church Kindergarten at Hougang Ave 8 (opposite Punggol Park). I look forward to your support once again. Full details can be obtained from :  https://tanariverlife.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/2014-part-b-pdf.pdf

This project, with your generous support, benefited over 50 families last year. I write about this and other entrepreneurship programs at:

https://tanariverlife.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/2013-pdf-part-g-and-h-entrepreneuship.pdf

The farm project has progressed very well in spite of being partially destroyed during the floods that hit the delta in May and June last year. More information on this is available at:

https://tanariverlife.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/2013-pdf-part-d-e-and-f-sustainable-agriculture.pdf

This was largely due to the efforts of the present group of youth under formation who are also the farm managers. They have matured tremendously in the past year, and are very responsible and honest. I explain more about the youth formation project in the following write-up:

https://tanariverlife.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/2013-pdf-part-i-and-j-integral-formation.pdf

We were blessed with many visitors last year. A compilation of photos of 2013 visitors is available at:

https://tanariverlife.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/2013-pdf-part-m-donor-visits.pdf

I am grateful for these visits, as it enriches the life experiences of our youth. I trust that every one of our visitors were also enriched in some way, and I welcome more such visits in the coming years.

I am very grateful to all who have helped us in one way or another, making possible so many initiatives last year. May you be blessed abundantly for your generous spirit.  Below is an acknowledgment of the help we received in 2013, and I apologize if I have inadvertently missed mentioning anyone:

https://tanariverlife.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/2013-pdf-part-n-acknowledgements.pdf

Highlights of our 2013 initiatives can be downloaded at: https://tanariverlife.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/2013-pdf-part-a-cover-and-intro.pdf

The complete 2013 Annual Report comprising all the above sections is available at:

https://tanariverlife.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/2013-trlf-annual-report-final.pdf

We have made major changes to the administration of our school fees sponsorship programme with the aim of assisting the most marginalized students from every location in the Tana Delta. This and all our other plans for 2014 are outlined in the following report:

https://tanariverlife.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/2014-part-a-pdf.pdf

I hope you will be encouraged to continue to journey with us this year as we work towards a more complete humanity for all.

I created a new email address for the foundation: tanariverlifefoundation@gmail.com, and will be sending all future reports through that address. Please save that email address in your contacts list/address book to prevent our future reports from inadvertently being sent to your spam folder.

Lastly, I look forward to meeting you during my stay in Singapore and Malaysia from the end of March until the middle of May. I will be contactable at both +65-98338401 (Singapore) and +6012-6237040 (Malaysia) from 21st March. Please note my new permanent mobile number in Singapore.

Thank you once again, and I wish you all a year of peace and fulfillment. God bless.

Gabriel Teo Kian Chong

Idsowe – Tana Delta

February 2014

An update on the Sustainable Agriculture Project

The Sustainable Agriculture Project was started by the foundation in 2010 to establish a model food garden that would be environmentally sustainable in the semi-arid land of the Tana Delta. It educates the local youth on methods of improving food security and alleviating poverty. With the newly acquired knowledge, they were expected to be catalysts in their rural communities, improving household nutrition and generating additional income. This benefits both the current and future generations, while promoting the sustainable and integrated development of communities.

The current batch of youths under formation have proven to be more responsible than their predecessors. The farm was flooded in May and June, and they spent many hours repairing and replanting. Through their hard work, there has been a great improvement in the farm in the short period between July to October 2013.

Flood damage - Tana River 2013

Goat house damaged by flood waters

Flood waters - Tana River 2013

Submerged Casuarina Plantation

Bananas lost to the floods

Bananas lost to the floods

They are now able to run the projects independently with minimum guidance while attending to all necessary maintenance tasks. Starting September 2013, two of our former beneficiaries have been providing them with technical training in poultry, bee, fish and livestock keeping. In addition they were sent to Malindi for a 1-day course in rabbit keeping. They plan to start that project by December 2013.

New Banana crop - post floods Oct 2013

New Banana crop – post floods Oct 2013

Repairing the farm house after the floods - Oct 2013

Building a Rabbit Pen after the floods – Oct 2013

Working the fields after the floods - Oct 2013

Replanting nappier grass ( livestock feed ) after the floods – Oct 2013

Repaired farmhouse - Oct 2013

Repaired goat house – post floods Oct 2013

We have since discovered that the project is an excellent tool in the formation of the moral character of the youths.

  • They learn and appreciate the benefits of hard work. It helps them understand that focused effort is required on their part to improve their lives.  Continual improvements through the adoption of modern and scientific methods are also important. It changes their attitudes towards sponsorships and donor assistance. They better understand the need for self reliance to improve their lives instead of just waiting for help to come along.
  • It also helps them learn to work together in small groups, and to be fair to and responsible to others. These are key lessons if they are to become community leaders in the future. Currently local communities lack honest and generous leaders. This project has helped to change that mind-set amongst the youth inculcating a greater spirit of fairness and generosity.
  • The project also gives them invaluable training in handling their own finances in a responsible way. From having to ask for money for a simple haircut, they have found themselves able to buy the first mattrese their mothers have ever had in their entire lives through the sale of vegetables. Many of them have been able to save and plan for their personal expenses, and regularly contribute to their families’ food budget.

The youths have discovered the importance of self-reliance and diligence towards achieving a better quality of life. They have learnt and internalized accountability.

The foundation is grateful to Wesley Methodist Church Singapore for their continued support on this project. If you are would like to find out more about this project, please contact us at tanariverlifefoundation@gmail.com .